The game most certainly is afoot but there seems to be no mystery about this upcoming series so don't expect any extemporaneous deduced earth-shattering conclusions. Indeed ... on the contrary what follows is simple extemporaneous spew i.e... devoid of astute analysis. The most obvious storyline is that it's a chance for UAA to recover some points that they gave away. It's a back to back (even if the back's weren't close) series from the Seawolves perspective while the Badgers have been relatively busy. The Badgers haven't really capitalized on the momentum that sweeping UAA might have given them. They've went 1-2-1 losing twice to Northern Michigan after beating Alabama-Huntsville and tying Lake State. Had they not had players at the World Jr. Tournament then I'd imagine they'd have went 4-0 during that stretch.
There's no mystery with regard to what the Seawolves have to do in order to get 4 points this weekend. It's the same story as every other weekend. Minimize penalties, get power play production, establish 5-on-5 dominance, win the physical battles, be opportunistic, use your speed in transition, blueliner involvment offensively, show commitment in your own zone (that means go down and block shots), solid goaltending and finally bury your chances. The Seawolves have the rare combination of speed and size. They learned over the last season and a half exactly how to inflict a strong physcial game on an opponent.
The Badgers have got to be a little bit ragged by my estimation. They had only a short break; they played two days after Xmas and then the day after New Years. They've had teammates out both injured (Johnson, Smith, Street) and at World Jrs (McDonagh, Goloubef). Quality practices must have been few and far between. They have the World Jr players back but those guys have played a lot of hockey games in the last couple of weeks. And I sense that the Wisconsin coaching staff may not have the highest confidence in their goaltending. Connelly hasn't been sharp by most observers accounts and their backup has only 3 games under his belt. On the maybe not so ragged side though is the fact that this roadtrip is their first since November 21/22 at St. Cloud. The Badger team is probably in the air to Anchorage as I type this which will give them two full days here before game time. Wherever the reality lies in between those two possibilities I'd still have to give the freshness factor to the Seawolves which should translate to a more crisp physical effort on UAA's part.
There's no doubt that the Seawolves have to get one thing done moreso than any other thing. They have to get the puck in the net more. Close misses and pipes have to turn into twine stretching goals. However that needs to happen, it needs to happen this weekend.
I'm struggling here to not let this post turn into some big cheerleading rah rah "I know the boys can do it" kinda thing. I honestly look at the talent and effort from this year's Seawolf team and believe they have a legitimate shot at winning every time they hit the ice. It does still take a combination of the available talent and the effort on any given night to come up with those dubyas. I guess this is the part of the season where we'll see ... by the end of January we'll know how much contender or pretender exists in Seawolfland. I used the "their fate is in their own hands" line at least a couple of times in the last couple of posts. And that's just how it is at this point.
Make us more proud of you than we are already Seawolves. Sweep Bucky outta town, enjoy it and then get ready for the next opportunity. That's all I've got today.